None of us, regardless of our perspective, is consistent with our worldview. Our beliefs may be somewhat consistent, but our behaviors are not. For example, why is it that Christians (of which I am one), don’t live up to the ideals of Jesus? Aren’t we supposed to be his followers? Aren’t our lives supposed to be a reflection of his? As Christians, we know that the answers to these questions are a resounding “yes.” We also know that too often, we don’t live up to those standards.
With that conceded, does that make our Darwinian friend any better? He will be the first to cry foul when conversing with these “hypocritical” Christians who fail to live out their beliefs. He feels justified in doing so because he doesn’t pretend to be someone he is not. Is that so? If it is, then what is his philosophical foundation for railing against their hypocrisy? If his objections run their normal course, inevitably, he will bring up the institutional church’s crimes against humanity perpetuated through history. But, before going further, it is fair to ask, what is his ethical base for denouncing these acts? Unfortunately, these crimes are not a matter of opinion. They are historical fact. But when you think about it, it would seem, at least from a Darwinian perspective, that these abuses are simply the logical outworking of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. From that vantage point, these atrocities are nothing more than the strong (i.e. the institutional church) devouring the weak (i.e. the defenseless). Everyone, including our Darwinian friend, knows these things are wrong. But, to be a consistent Darwinian, our friend cannot have it both ways. He must, if he is to remain consistent, exchange ethics for adaptability. There is no other way if he wishes to maintain his Darwinian viewpoint. Our friend’s very act of calling something immoral proves the inconsistency of his worldview.
Or what about our acquaintance who holds to the teachings of Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy? Christian Science teaches that humans are minds. In this worldview, material things are an illusion. This makes me wonder, that if in a hurry, how often does our Christian Scientist friend bother to obey the Don’t Walk sign when crossing a busy street? I mean, if material things are an illusion, and she is running late, then why doesn’t she cross the street so she can be on her way? I think we all know the answer. She doesn’t walk into oncoming traffic because she is inconsistent. Consistency would expose her to physical danger. Her worldview might contend that speeding cars are an illusion. But, her common sense, revealed by her behavior, says that deep down, she knows moving automobiles are real. She can be no more consistent than our Christian “hypocrite” or our Darwinian “moralist.”
All these examples lead us to a couple of conclusions. First, we all have a worldview. Second, none of us live out our worldview consistently. If we know these things to be true, and we all admit that we don’t have it all figured out, then why do we still struggle in getting along with each other? Sadly, the reason for our disharmony does not come from ignorance. Instead, it comes from the fact that we are moral creatures. Each of us has an innate sense of right and wrong. We all long for justice. We all have a need for justice. And, like it or not, we can’t escape that reality. The problem is that different worldviews contain different ethical systems. The question becomes, “Which system is right?” If we cannot answer this question sufficiently, then, we must, at a minimum, establish which system is the most consistent. Or, at the very least, we must identify which system most closely coheres with reality. Figuring this out will provide a starting point for finding harmony amidst this philosophical chaos.
The plea in this article is not to argue for the logical consistency of Christianity. Although I do believe that it does offer the most coherent view of reality. No, my goal in this composition is much less ambitious. Here, I just want to point out our inescapable need to examine our own presuppositions. We must examine ourselves so that we can be aware of our own inconsistencies before attacking the inconsistencies of our fellow human beings. As Christians, we must remember that like us, all non-Christians are image bearers too. As such, they deserve dignity and respect. These people are, as Schaffer would say, “our kind.”(1) What does this mean? It means that in the deepest sense, from a Christian perspective, they are human beings.
This is wonderful news for the Christian. Because if we have the truth, and I think we do, then we have nothing to fear. We can display our bravery in our interactions with non-Christians by being faithful to how Jesus demonstrated his personality. As a person, Jesus was the Truth. But, he was also a model of grace. So, to be like Jesus, we too must live our lives in the same way. We need to humbly acknowledge that we haven’t figured it all out. But, at the same time, we must lovingly point others to the One who has. If we live our lives in this way, our worldview will become progressively more consistent, and in turn, we will become progressively more human.
Join the Conversation
If you are a Christian, how consistent have you championed truth in a gracious manner? If you are not a Christian, how deeply have you examined the presuppositions of your ethical system?
(1) Francis Schaeffer, Triology (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1990), 131.